Thursday, February 2, 2012
When you get a bunch of Star Trek fans together, the conversation will often devolve into a bunch of squabbling over which series in the franchise was the best.
Such wrangling is pointless as we’re almost always talking about subjective opinions. Here’s the only objective opinion that carries any weight in those discussions – Deep Space 9 was the best series of them all. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll gladly agree that every series in the Star Trek franchise has merit. The original is simply classic, The Next Generation was the series fans had wanted for years and had a deservedly long run and who could resist the Gilligan's Island meets Lost in Space vibe of Boyager? Even Enterprise and that animated version of Star Trek and Enterprise had something to bring to the table.
Still, DS9 tops them all. Anyone who disagrees with me on this is simply wrong and begging for a fight. And we’re talking about a particularly nasty fight in a gravel parking lot.
What makes DS9 so great? The character development is incredible as is the continuity of the series. Yes, other Treks typically featured people wandering around space, dealing with creepy aliens for an hour, resolving some problems and then warping off to a new destination. In short, it was no problem missing a few episodes and then coming back to it later. That wasn’t the case on DS9 – they didn’t have to look for trouble as trouble came looking for them. Furthermore, the crew was generally in a static environment, so it was easy for recurring characters to stick around for several episodes.
Also, the location of the station was important. The thing was of Caradassian design and that sneaky bunch clearly wanted it back. Of course, the Cardassian station became the property of the Bajorans after that world booted the occupying Cardassians off their planet. The Federation came in to help administer the station and rebuild the Bajoran economy. It was obvious there were millions on Bajor that didn’t appreciate the Federation’s appearance.
So, there was more than enough resentment and political intrigue to go around. Complicating matters further was a stable wormhole discovered near the station and Bajor that made travel to the distant Delta quadrant a breeze. All sorts of species popped through that wormhole and the station played host to plenty of people wanting to travel through it and go to the Delta quadrant.
The wormhole itself was the home of an advanced race of beings that operated on, well, a higher plane. The Bajorans worshipped those aliens, thus bringing in the concept of gods that were demonstrably real and interacted regularly with those that worshiped them. Intriguing stuff.
Here’s another thing. The notion that the Federation was a perfect organization governed by optimism and fair play was tossed out the window during the season. The Federation spied on its own people, engaged in questionable moral behavior to win its generation-changing war against the Dominion (a race of shape shifters from the Delta quadrant.
In other words, the series was dark and cynical as apposed to touchy-feely and that was a refreshing change of pace.
Besides, DS9 was run by the coolest captain to ever show up in a Trek series. Avery Brooks is the man. Period.
There you go. Disagree with me only if you’re willing to get into a fight on a gravel parking lot.